Nightmares To Dreams, A Basic Therapeutic Impact Approach

Bob Dylan, the Nobel Laureate, on his white album, said, "I don't write songs, I just write them down." This could be said of all of us, both positively and negatively: we don't control our circumstances... we can ride them, resist them, or make music out of them. Lawrence Durrell seemed to think that each human journey has little to do with decisions we can take credit for: "Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will -- whatever we may think (Bitter Lemons of Cyprus)." As a New Englander I tend to like Steiner's quote better: "Genius is a result of industry." In other words, we can all be geniuses if we work hard enough; we can overcome the challenges of this time if we persist. I know these words flow too easily. Something deeper is disturbing me.

In these past weeks while adjusting to the troubling division in this country, a song grew in me after a kick from my granddaughter to make music. I only know the source of the cord sequence which I heard my son inventing late at night before returning to his converted schoolbus in California. The fact that it would not let go and why it needed many layers of sound and meaning before I released it as a song, is a mystery. In completing it, I realized it was related to this time of nightmare.

People with values are in disbelief and pain as their circumstances of comfortable righteousness dissolved. Pictures of the horses and fearless riders in the snow and the seemingly inevitable violence at Standing Rock were being etched into their hearts like a hieroglyph standing for this nightmare time. And the words came to me, when I thought I was writing a love song: "Change your nightmares into your dreams!"

This is going beyond what Byron Katie calls Loving What Is ( ) . As powerful as this is. She suggests that people often see their own faults in others, so by letting go of this projection it becomes possible to love the one you are with. I am also not suggesting to look at the silver lining in every bad situation. I am suggesting that the nightmare itself is an invitation to face fear and find love.

Charles Eisenstein, , the "degrowth activist" has been warning about the tendency to lose sight of our highest and best values (like love) and try to look or be tough in the face of "the enemy..." even to declare war and become like the enemy. With the announcement that the stand at Standing Rock may have worked, firm, non-violent commitment seems to have won the day for now. Tough Love is painful and powerful, because behind the nightmare and the fear is something profoundly human. The Native People's stand was brimming with tough love.

Now, as the recounts and other internal turbulences continue I am wondering what investors will do. Watching the market, it seems there has been a short term exodus from green things toward oil and big banks, to the kinds of powerful entities billionaires know intimately. Will the movement to divest from fossil fuels and invest in a future we would all love fizzle? I doubt it.

Mark Hulbert, the well known Mutual Fund analyst , reminded me that when governments oppose the philanthropists' favorite charitable missions, fund-raising blossoms. Perhaps the very opposition to a cause strengthens it. The last right-leaning regimes in this country were heydays for environmental groups raising capital, for example. We can hope that socially and environmentally conscious investors will remain standing and resilient as these political tides change.

Whatever you fear is an invitation to connect, to make contact, to know yourself and the other differently. The song taught me this and I learned it before from years of training and interaction with Mariah Fenton Gladis, who, as a Gestalt therapist applies the idea that every little thing in a dream is trying to talk to you, if you are willing to listen. And likewise every circumstance in life has a message. The work is in accepting the message. The key seems to be facing fear.

And what do we fear most? The unknown. Google and Facebook, by refining searches and preferences has made our time online more efficient, but provides us only with what we already believe and are comfortable to see and read. The result is that we have lost touch with the melting pot, the mixed salad of America. We are serving ourselves everything we already know and hardening our positions.

As investors in our future, we need to know the ingredients of our world. Everyone you fear, every nightmare you face is an invitation to grow. The reward for reaching out is fulfillment, which we can never know by remaining isolated from people and problems we fear. Without risk there can be no reward. People and planet are inviting us to invest.